New Mexico v. Antonio T (N.M. October 23, 2014), is a case from New Mexico about a scenario that is all-to-familiar in schools around the country. A school administrator questioned a juvenile about an act that may be a crime if committed by an adult while a school resource officer stood by waiting for the evidence to be gathered. These was no knowing and voluntary waiver of rights. The child’s statement was later used against the child in the delinquency case.
The New Mexico Supreme Court held that if a child is fifteen years or older and his or her statement was elicited, “the State must prove that the child was advised of his or her constitutional rights and knowingly, intelligently, and voluntarily waived these rights, regardless of who elicited the statement.” Id. at 10. This protection “applies to statements elicited from a child by any person, regardless of that person’s status or position.” Id. at 14.
New Mexico already has a law that protects very young children during interrogations. “Notwithstanding any other provision to the contrary, no confessions, statements, or admissions may be introduced against a child under the age of thirteen years on the allegations of a petition.” Section 32A-2-14(F). “For children children who are thirteen or fourteen years old, the Legislature has created a rebuttable presumption that their confessions, statements, or admissions are inadmissible in court proceedings if such statements were made to a person in a position of authority.” N.M. v. Antonio T. at 9, citing Section 32A-2-14(F).
Indiana does not have these protections. However, a proposal was put before the Interim Study Committee on Corrections and Criminal Code during the summer of 2014 that would require that a school resource officer (SRO) conduct any interrogations at the school with constitutional protections for the child and that the interrogation be recorded, if the school employed an SRO. If anyone other than law enforcement or an SRO conducted the interrogation, the confession could not be used against the child in a delinquency or criminal case.